Pronouns

In Italian pronouns are a monster.  They wash up on the beach like that horrible dead fish in the final scene of La Dolce Vita and we all stand around in class, like Marcello Mastroianni’s crew, discussing how damn gross it is.   Tiny little words innocently fill adorable, perfectly symmetrical little charts.  Surely, they …

Birthday Promises

I am not sold on adult birthdays, but this year I had been promised the gift of Wi-Fi.  In the morning, I assuredly left the Telecom tech in my apartment with my landlady. With a fancy ladder like that, surely he knew what he was doing.  I thought, with stupidly misplaced American assurance, that it …

Round 10

Although Americans pretty much can’t agree on anything these days, I’d hazard a guess that Rocky Balboa is someone who we all still cheer for.  And telling me that you don’t like Rocky is like telling me you don’t like pizza.  I don’t believe you.  I, like you, still can’t believe that he got punched …

Et tu

Any historian worth their salt can give you a rundown of THE Ides of March. I just happen to be worth my salt.  Yeah, all those salty tears that I shed in Medieval Latin class when the grammar rules that I so long stood on went flying out the window.  Back in my day, we …

Topophilia

I am neither the first nor the last person to love stone. Pygmalion, who shunned the flaws of the women he met, set out to create a sculpture that was so inimitable that he couldn’t help but shower her with unadulterated adoration even before benevolent Aphrodite brought stone to life.  The statue appeared to glow …

Look

Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Alan Rickman, Prince, David Bowe, Harper Lee . . . they are all gone.  2016 ended with a collective human sigh and a GoFundMe drive to keep Betty White alive because humanity had had enough. But what about John Berger who died on January 2? It seems like 2017 took the …

Qualis Artifex Pereo

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.  He either played his lyre sadistically while the city turned to ash, or he “fiddled around” doing nothing of consequence.  Maybe he was just apathetic? Overwhelmed?  Whatever his rationale, history does not remember him kindly.  Rome burned for almost a week in 64 AD, the Christians were blamed and Nero …

Se mai continga

It was the dead of winter in that drafty old Florentine palazzo when my Italian literature professor stood up with explicit force in class.  Stooped like a leafless elm, I could see his breath spouting the poetic pain of exile in a language far more awesome than my own.  The epic swan song of a …

Indignitas

As I set out to make my way from Rome’s infamous armpit of Termini Station to the more gracious Campo de’ Fiore, I found that the location of the square was all but obliterated by a deep faded crease in my once trusty old paper map.  The good thing about the city of Rome is …

Biblioteca Nazionale

A place that you love can become a dear old friend.  The relationship matures over time and, when you are apart, the absence is never far from your mind.  I first entered the Biblioteca Nazionale with a level of unsurpassed and irrational fear.  I was a 25 year old Ph.D. student, but I stood like …